A POLICE chase, which ended dramatically at Ford railway station on Monday (March 30) was ‘moments away from catastrophe’, a witness said.
Officers had been pursuing a black Vauxhall Astra from a property in Worthing, towards Arundel, when, in a bid to escape, the fleeing vehicle ploughed through the level crossing, in Ford Lane.
As well as wrecking the crossing, the car also smashed into a number of other vehicles, including a police Land Rover.
Charlotte Wright, general manager of WHSupplies, in Ford Lane, described hearing a loud ‘screeching of tyres’ and ‘banging’ as the Astra blasted through the barriers.
Mrs Wright, of Parkside Avenue, Littlehampton, said: “If it was this time last week it could have been catastrophic with all the school kids around.”
She feared the car could have derailed an approaching train, ‘taking out’ nearby businesses and railway users.
The chase had sparked earlier that day, when police received a call about a suspected burglary, in Firsdown Close, Worthing.
A spokesman for the force said the car had ‘sped off’ from the property and was eventually sighted by officers travelling along the A259.
The pursuit then ensued, with the Astra heading through Climping and Ford before crashing at 2.25pm.
After the impact, the three occupants of the stricken Astra then fled on foot, with one running along the live railway tracks and the others dashing towards nearby fields, police said.
All three suspects were apprehended within minutes.
The incident caused widespread disruption to rail services across Littlehampton, Bognor, Arundel, Barnham and Chichester, with cancellations and delays causing misery for many commuters.
Mrs Wright added: “To put your own life at risk is one thing, but to put the lives of so many other people in danger is absolutely disgusting.”
n Two men appeared in court after Monday’s drama.
Billy Way, 25, of no fixed address in the Portsmouth area, has been charged with burglary and theft.
Andrew Smith, 29, also of, Portsmouth, has been charged with burglary and theft, dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and driving without insurance.
The pair are due at Chichester Crown Court for a hearing on April 24.
A 30-year-old man from Portsmouth was arrested on suspicion of burglary with intent to steal and was bailed to June 1.